AAR’s Top dishes of 2011 (Melbourne)
As the final day of this eventful year draws to a close, I would like to share with you a very short collection of top Melbourne dishes which represent some of my many memorable dining experiences I’ve had the fortune to lay my palate on during this decadent year of eating. These have been quickly strewn together and are presented in no particular order.
[Candidate 1] Poached egg, white polenta and black truffle @ The Point – Every mouthful of this dish oozes with the rich intensity of creamy polenta and perfectly gooey yolk of poached egg. The silky perfection is married with an earthy black truffle, which makes for an absolutely divine indulgence.
[Candidate 2] Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork @ Spice Temple – Each piece had a crispy deep-fried shell covering the succulent pork interior. It was lathered in a sweet honey; tossed with tangy black vinegar and also had a peppery sharpness from the Sichuan peppercorn, which gave a slow-onset tongue ‘numbing’ sensation.
[Candidate 3] Snickers @ Il Fornaio by Philippa Sibley – Sandwiched between layers of glimmering tempered chocolate lay adorable scoops of milk chocolate mousse, interspersed with salted peanut caramel which almost oozed out of the sides – sweet, savoury and no doubt decadently luxurious! [Note: Philippa Sibley no longer resides here, but as of this month you now catch her here.]
[Candidate 4] Soft shell mud crab @ Cumulus Inc – a generous serving of large soft shell crabs served in a bowl-too-small. Delimbed and lightly battered, the crabs were delicately crispy, juicy and meaty as well. A dash of lemon adds just the right amount of acidity to balance the simple seasoning.
[Candidate 5] Vanilla bean crème brulee @ The Fog – The layer of caramelised sugar is hard but truly brittle, whilst the custard is smooth and fragrantly vanilla. Simple but perfect – custard heaven!
[Candidate 6] Chicken broth, enoki, shimeji mushrooms and lime @ Golden Fields – would easily be my highlight of the long lunch. It bursts at the seams with a beautiful ballad of umami between the juicy mushrooms, soft poached egg and chicken broth. A tiny touch of lime acidity added to turn a notch down on the indulgence.
[Candidate 7] Carrillera de Buey (beef cheeks) @ Movida Bar de Tapas – Slowly braised in Pedro Ximenez that gives it a luxurious but subtle sweetness and acidity of raisins and grape, this slab of beef cheek had a beautiful dark crust, with an incredibly juicy, tender and fragrant flesh, that just falls apart on your fork. Unless you’re like me and ordered way too much food, you will not want to share this with anyone.
[Candidate 8] Seared scallops @ French Brasserie – The plump scallops were perfectly seared with a crispy caramelisation and wonderfully moist bite. The smooth carotene puree and ginger puree provided a balance of creamy sweetness and mild heat, whilst the duo of baby carrot (cooked & raw) provided a contrast of bite. It is finished off with a mezze style chive tabouleh and baby coriander, for a touch of herb and tang. Sublime!
[Candidate 9] Chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait & salted caramel @ Cutler and Co – The rich smoothness of the chocolate ice-cream and dense vanilla parfait, thrown against the almost-dangerously bitter chocolate – was a match made in heaven. The crumbs of sweet, nutty crunch and salty-sticky goodness (aka salted caramel) further lifted this dessert – dessert heaven!
Note: A much longer “guide to Melbourne” will be out after the New Year, with much more extensive list of my favourite eateries of 2011. =)